Thursday 5 June 2008

Poland camp awash with high spirits

Neither the inclement weather nor the fact that he faces difficult team selections have prevented Poland coach Leo Beenhakker from approaching the start of UEFA EURO 2008 with good humour and wit. Polish training in Bad Waltersdorf was scrapped yesterday because of the torrential rain the last thing Beenhakker needed given his admission that he is still unsure about his best lineup.

Reggae memory
The Dutchman grimaced when reminded how an important day had been disrupted by the huge downpour that has swept across central Europe over the past few days, before a smile returned to his face and he said: "When I worked with Trinidad and Tobago during the last World Cup I woke up every morning to the sound of Bob Marley but now I wake up every day suffering from a headache!"

Healthy rivalry
Beenhakker has been urging his squad to train and prepare with full commitment ahead of what promises to be a tremendous test; their Group B opener against Germany. Even the training session that did beat the weather was held behind closed doors always an indication that a coach is squeezing every last drop of surprise value from pre-match tactical preparations. Larissa FC striker Maciej Żurawski, who will captain Poland, said: "The coach is asking us to adapt to a system where we will switch positions regularly and effortlessly during the match. The good news is that we are all working extremely hard on our preparation and the fact that there is a lot of rivalry for positions is spurring us forward."

Happy atmosphere
Indeed, if Beenhakker is waking up with his brain taxed from all the questions that remain to be addressed, the remainder of the Poland contingent is enjoying the group atmosphere in Austria. "I think one of our most important strengths right now is the fact that there is a fantastic spirit in the camp," confirmed winger Jakub Błaszczykowski. His team-mate Łukasz Garguła, patently delighted to be carrying his favoured number, ten, on the back of his shirt, added a vote of confidence of Poland's build-up. "The training camp and the hotel are just perfect for the purpose of allowing us to focus totally on the preparations for the big match against Germany and the mood right now is that each one of us is desperate to be chosen."